With more and more states legalizing commercial cultivation, skilled head growers are in short supply.
Cannabis cultivators that have experience operating in regulated environments command top dollar, and it can be difficult to lure them away from their current job.
So, what’s an entrepreneur to do?
Rather than recruit for cannabis expertise, consider hiring for commercial plant production experience instead.
Growers with at least ten years of experience cultivating flowers, vegetables, or herbs on a commercial scale can be a tremendous asset to your business.
If you’re hesitant to look outside of the cannabis world to staff your cultivation team, here are five reasons why hiring a grower from traditional horticulture makes good business sense:
1. Ninety percent of crop production principles apply to cannabis
Every crop poses production challenges when grown on a commercial scale, and cannabis is no exception.
Poinsettias suffer from calcium deficiency when there isn’t adequate airflow, and Easter lilies will grow waist-high if greenhouse temperatures aren’t kept in check.
The fact that cannabis is susceptible to mold can make production difficult in high humidity environments, but crop challenges are not a foreign concept to experienced growers.
Head growers from traditional horticulture recognize that every commercial crop has its nuances, but 90% of the principles used to cultivate other crops apply directly to cannabis.
2. Commercial growers are trained to learn new crops quickly.
Like any business, plant sellers need to mix up their offerings to stay competitive in the marketplace.
Commercial flower growers sell to garden centers that want to differentiate themselves from their competitors down the street.
For this reason, it’s common for greenhouse growers to take on new crops that they didn’t cultivate the year before. They have no choice but to learn how to grow a new crop—and quickly.
Through the help of subject matter experts and cultivation consultants, skilled growers new to cannabis can be quickly brought up to speed on the plant’s peculiarities.
Excellent cannabis growers do not need to come from the cannabis world. A true grower will learn to cultivate any crop well.
3. Commercial growers sweat the details
One of the biggest mistakes a cannabis grower can make is to ignore the importance of timing and attention to detail.
In a year-round perpetual harvest program, tasks need to be accomplished at very exact times.
Not doing so results in production bottlenecks—or worse—downtime and empty grow rooms.
In the floriculture industry, crops are often sold before they’re planted. It’s common for big box stores to place orders for seasonal products like poinsettias, Easter lilies, and spring bedding plants a year before they’re needed.
This scenario leaves little room for error, and growers from this world are hardwired to focus on timing. They are trained to be hyper-sensitive about anything that might affect their ability to meet important crop deadlines.
This kind of attention to detail is critical when growing a commercial cannabis crop.
4. Most horticulture businesses operate on razor-thin margins
There isn’t much profit in a cluster of tomatoes, yet massive state-of-the-art facilities are being built across the globe to grow hydroponic tomatoes. These cultivation businesses have found a way to make tomato crops profitable, and an essential part of their business model is keeping production costs low.
Hiring a head grower from this world of razor-thin margins can be good for your business.
Hydroponic vegetable growers schedule crop production to eliminate inefficiencies in work processes and people flow, and they will eradicate anything that unnecessarily drains employee productivity or company resources.
For any cultivation business concerned about the future price compression of cannabis flower, hiring a grower used to operating on thin margins will ensure that production occurs at the lowest cost possible.
5. Vegetable growers understand compliance
Vegetable growers need to cultivate, process, and package their crops with regulatory agencies like the USDA in mind.
Hydroponically grown vegetables, leafy greens, and herbs are shipped across the country and often consumed raw. Improperly handled produce can result in sickness and product recalls.
Recruiting a grower from this environment can significantly benefit cannabis companies that need to operate in a transparent and legal manner.
Most licensing entities require cannabis growers to implement quality management systems based on sound SOPs and conformance with all rules and regulations.
Since non-compliance is the number one cause of cannabis license revocations and fines, hiring a grower with a history of compliance will help ensure that your company stays on the good side of the law.
Whether you’re launching a new cultivation start-up or replacing an existing grower, think outside of the bud.
World-class growers are all around you—it’s just a question of where to look.